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Sony Alpha A58 Digital SLT Review

Sony Alpha A58 Digital SLT Review - The new Sony Alpha A58 is Sony's latest entry level Digital SLR / SLT with a new 20.1 megapixel APS-C sensor and 5fps continuous shooting. Find out how it performs in our review.

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Sony Alpha A58
Price : £439
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sony Alpha A58 DSLT (2)

The 20.1 megapixel Sony Alpha A58 DSLT is Sony's latest interchangeable lens camera with translucent mirror technology and is designed to replace both the Sony Alpha A37 and A57, bringing a simplification to the entry level range of Sony Alpha DSLTs. The next model up in the range is the Sony Alpha A65.

Sony Alpha A58 Features

Sony Alpha A58 DSLT (4)

The Sony Alpha A58 DSLT features a new 20.1 megapixel Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor, with ISO100 to ISO16000, and an improved BIONZ image processing engine for detailed, low-noise photos. The camera includes SteadyShot INSIDE, which moves the sensor to counter-act any camera shake. The Sony Translucent Mirror Technology means that it uses a transparent mirror with a separate autofocus sensor, that allows continuous AF, and the mirror does not need to move when taking photos. Due to the use of the mirror technology, the camera does not feature an optical viewfinder like other Digital SLRs, but instead uses an electronic viewfinder - this model sports a 1.44million dot OLED viewfinder, with eye-detection sensor, and on the back a 2.7inch tilting 460k dot screen.

Auto object framing, will automatically frame portraits, macros or AF Tracking subjects, and crop accordingly while also retaining the original image. This feature is an update to auto-portrait framing on previous models, and can be switched off if unneeded. Lock on AF is another new feature that will automatically detect the subject size and track the movement accordingly. The new 20.1 megapixel sensor offers ISO100 to ISO16000, with area based noise reduction for improved low light performance.

Introduced with the Sony Alpha A58 is a new kit lens, the Sony DT f/3.5-5.6 18-55mm SAM II (Model SAL18552). The lens has newly-designed rear lens elements designed to suppress flare and ghosting, while mechanical elements have been upgraded for a more positive, comfortable operation.

Sony Alpha A58 DSLT (13)

Key Features

  • 20.1 megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor
  • 2.7inch 460k dot tilting screen
  • 1,440k dot OLED EVF (SVGA)
  • SteadyShot INSIDE™ image stabilization sensor
  • 15-point AF system with 3 cross-sensors
  • New ISO standard hot-shoe with Multi Terminal (Ni) accessory port
  • Panoramic shooting
  • 1080/60i/24p Full AVCHD™ or 1080/30p MP4 movies
  • ISO100 - 16000, Multi-frame noise reduction
  • 5fps continuous shooting with AF / 8fps at 5mp
  • Auto HDR / Picture effects / Hand-held twilight
  • Memory Stick PRO Duo / SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Slot

Sony Alpha A58 Handling

Sony Alpha A58 DSLT (14)

Handling - On top you'll notice that the A58 has followed other recent Sony Alpha and NEX cameras and features a more ISO standard flash hot-shoe, with the Multi Terminal Ni accessory port. Included in the box is an adapter to convert it back into the previous style of Sony flash mount if needed. In front of the shutter release button is a control wheel for adjusting aperture or shutter depending on which mode you are in.

There is a moulded front grip, which gives a good level of resistance as it is made out of rubber. On the rear is a decent sized textured thumb grip, however this is just made of plastic, and not rubber like the front grip. The electronic viewfinder is the same resolution as the Sony Alpha A57, however, this new model is OLED instead of LCD, and looks good, with a clear display.

Also on the rear are the menu, video, AEL, exposure, FN, Playback and ? (Help) buttons, with a 4-way controller and middle AF button. The four-way controller gives quick access to DISP, Drive, WB and Creative shooting effects.
Sony Alpha A58 DSLT (7)

The 2.7 inch screen features a 460k dot resolution and tilts up and down, although doesn't have the best view when not viewed directly. The menus are clear and easy to use, and a number of settings can be adjusted on the screen using the Fn button. Underneath the camera has the usual tripod socket and battery compartment with the memory card accessed from the side.

The lens mount is plastic, while the previous models, the A37 and A57 feature a metal lens mount, although this is just the front of it, with the section behind the ring also made of plastic (on previous models as well). Whether this will affect the reliability of the camera is yet to be seen, but shouldn't cause any issues unless you regularly, and roughly, change your lens. The appearance of the plastic lens mount makes the camera look slightly unfinished when viewed without the lens attached.

Sony Alpha A58 DSLT (1)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 690-700 shots according to Sony / CIPA test results, with slightly longer battery life available when using the LCD screen.
Sony Alpha A58 DSLT (11)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  Sony Alpha A58 Sony RX100
Shutter Response 0.05s 0.0s
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.125s 0.3s
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.125s 0.3s
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.1s 2.2s
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.6s 0.9s
Shot to Shot with Flash 0.8s 2.1s
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5fps (8 shots) 7fps (speed priority mode, 15 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 0.8s 1.6s
Continuous Shooting - RAW 5fps (6 shots) 4fps (13 shots)

After shooting 8 JPEG (Fine) shots in continuous shooting, the camera slows to roughly 2 to 3fps. There is a high speed continuous shooting mode on the dial that shoots at 8fps, at a cropped resolution of 5 megapixels, after 15 shots this slows to 4 to 5fps.

Sony Alpha A58 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Sony Alpha A58 Sample Photos


Sample Photos - Colour and detail are good with the camera producing images with rich saturated colours. Flash performance is good with no red-eye visible in portrait photos taken with flash.

Sony Alpha A58 Lens test images


Lens Performance - The 18-55mm SAM II shows strong barrel distortion at 18mm, which can be corrected in camera, using the lens compensation correction built into the camera, with options to correct shading (vignetting), chromatic aberrations, and distortion. Dynamic range is good, with reliable exposure, and there are options to increase dynamic range with DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) or HDR shooting which automatically merges a number of shots taken at different exposures. Some purple fringing is visible when chromatic aberration correction is switched off, although generally this was not a problem in shots. The lens is quite resistant to flare, and has good levels of detail even into the corners, although images could benefit slightly from sharpening.

Sony Alpha A58 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - ISO is low at ISO100, ISO200 and ISO400, with some noise becoming visible at ISO800. At ISO1600 it's possible to see a slight reduction in detail in images, although noise is still quite low. This continues at ISO3200 as noise increases and detail drops again. ISO6400 shows additional noise and detail is lost, but results could be usable. Due to strong noise and reduced detail ISO12800 and ISO16000 are best avoided unless resized.

Sony Alpha A58 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten lighting with a slightly warm result, and the tungsten preset gives a more accurate result. AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting, with the fluorescent preset giving a colder result. Each white balance preset can be customised further, or alternatively you can use manual white balance to get the most accurate results.

Sony Alpha A58 Panoramic DSC05310 | 1/200 sec | f/9.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
Panoramic | 1/200 sec | f/9.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
Panorama mode - The panoramic shooting mode lets you pan the camera as you hold the shutter release button, and automatically stitches the photos together, giving decent results.

Sony Alpha A58 Digital filters


Digital Filters - The camera offers a wide range of picture effects and creative styles, a number of the picture effects are shown above. The creative styles let you setup and customise contrast, saturation, sharpness. The camera features 8 scene modes, including a handheld twilight mode that takes a number of shots in quick succession and combines them for a better shot.

Video - The camera records Full HD video, with continuous auto focus available while recording. Wind noise reduction and optical steady shot is available as well as a number of compression options, including AVCHD, MP4, 50i, 25p. ISO can be set to a maximum of ISO3200 for video recording. On the side is a microphone socket for improved audio recording.


Value For Money

The Sony Alpha A58 is available for £439 with 18-55mm SAM II kit lens, making it very good value for money, priced as an entry level Digital SLR, with alternatives to look at including the Pentax K-30 (16mp, weather sealed, 6fps), Nikon D3200 (24mp, 4fps), Canon EOS 600D (18mp, tilting screen, 3.7fps), and other alternatives worth looking at if you're interested in a smaller system being the Panasonic Lumix G5 (16mp, tilting touch-screen, 6fps) and the Samsung NX20 (20mp, tilting screen, Wi-Fi, 8fps).

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Sony Alpha A58 Verdict

The screen on the A57 was a very nice 3inch screen with 921k dots, and it's a shame to see a smaller, lower resolution screen on the A58. However, with a low introduction price of roughly £440 with 18-55mm kit lens, the A58 feels more like a replacement for the A37 rather than a replacement for the A57, with those looking for a more advanced camera better off looking at the Sony Alpha A65.

For those looking for a Digital SLR with a high resolution sensor, and good continuous shooting speed, at an entry level price, this is perhaps one of the better models, with quick focus and continuous shooting at 5fps, at the full 20 megapixel resolution. Battery life is also impressive offering up to 700 shots, with the info-lithium battery keeping you informed as to exactly how much is left.

The Sony Alpha A58 is not the smallest or lightest Digital SLR, with the A37, D3200 (just), 100D, and K-30 smaller, however it does give a good size hand grip and feels small enough and light enough for anyone looking for a reasonably compact and portable SLR. If you want a smaller model then the small size of mirrorless lenses and cameras would make the Panasonic Lumix G5 or newer G6 a more compact package.

Despite an increase in resolution over the Sony Alpha A37, noise is well controlled with decent results at ISO3200 and even ISO6400. Rather than seeing this as a downgraded A57, the A58 is more of an upgraded A37, and offers improved detail in images and excellent value for money. If you shoot with Sony lenses, and want to upgrade your body for better image quality then the Sony Alpha A58 is highly recommended.

 
  The Sony Alpha A58 offers improved detail in images and excellent value for money.

Sony Alpha A58 Pros

Good image quality
Bright saturated colours
Focus peaking for manual focus
Good battery life
5fps continuous shooting
Good value for money
Includes wide-strap
Microphone socket
Excellent value for money

Sony Alpha A58 Cons

Plastic lens mount should not affect reliability, however the appearance does put people off the camera
Strong barrel distortion at wide-angle
Low contrast 2.7inch screen
8fps continuous shooting at 5mp
1 year warranty

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Sony Alpha A58 Specifications

ManufacturerSony
Lens
Effective Magnification1.5x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels20.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5456
Pixels (H)3632
Sensor TypeExmor CMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)23.5mm
Sensor Size (height)15.6mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor2.7in
Screen resolution460k
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
  • Spot
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • Centre-weighted - Average
ISO sensitivity100 - 16000
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS50p, 50i, 25p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Storage
Card Type
  • Memory Stick
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeInfolithium NP-FM500H
CIPA Rating690
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens cap, Micro USB cable, Body cap, SAL-18552, rechargeable battery, Eyepiece cup, battery charger, shoulder strap, power cable
Dimensions
Weight492g
Width128.6mm
Height95.5mm
Depth77.7mm

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha A58

Hill Top TownDeep SecretA precious flowerSeaside RustLighthouse DonegalA hanging basketThae shoreWellies in the Bluebell Woods
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Comments


6 May 2013 9:07AM
Is this a reasonably in depth review?
There is in camera stabilisation but no comment on how well it works in terms of shutter speeds gained.
The camera has 15 AF points but there is no comment on where they are placed in the viewfinder. We are told AF is "quick" yet there are no pictures of moving subjects.
The review is "OK" as far as it goes - but does not go far enough to say anything meaningful about 2 important features - auto focus and image stabilisation.
There are examples of "Soft High Key" and "Posterisation" effects which I hope do not do these features any justice - otherwise only a "village idiot" camera designer would include them as menu options.
For a relative novice considering this type of camera I suggest it would be wise to look elsewhere to find out about AF and IS performance.

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AlanWillis 5 63 England
8 May 2013 3:14PM
Len,
SteadyShot INSIDE capability, unlike Canon & Nikon works in camera with all Sony lenses.
Approx. 2.5 to 4.5 steps in shutter speeds. Varies according to shooting conditions and lens used.
Not to be used when mounted on a tripod.

Although I've not used the A58 for birds in flight yet, I use slow AF to give maximum accuracy,and I have found the AF speed on the current Sony range is fine. Again the AF speed is affected more by the lens used.
I agree the AF points are near the centre of the viewfinder. Personally I do not find it a problem.

This second generation SLT camera, leads the way. I would whole heartedly recommend it.
tasktk 1 4
8 May 2013 6:58PM
I think it is the third/fourth generation slt after a33,a35 and a37.
I bought a57 last month after reading some reviews. I've got 12 fps. autofocus does not find any difference to me. focus peeking good for my M42 lenses. You do not need to reactivate before 2 sec review time to shoot another frame. It is the upgrade from a 35.
maxxie 6 1
6 Oct 2013 8:02PM
I think too much is made of the plastic mount by reviewers.
It makes no difference in practical use,and it seems to me just as sturdy as the usual light alloy types fitted in previous Sonys.
It is a nice camera,and is great to use,with a fast shutter,and autofocuss system.
The rear LCD is a bit smaller,true,but I prefer using the EVF anyway most of the time,which is better than similar optical viewfinders,in that it shows how the finished picture will be,and you can use in low light,when other types are normally too dim.
In the viewfinder stakes,the best I have used so far is that in the Fuji XS1 bridge camera,but this comes very close,being slightly smaller,but of a similar high resolution.
The Sony standard 18-55 lens,as fitted,is also very sharp,capturing plenty of detail,and the 20mp sensor allows some heavy cropping,when needed,if you're caught out,and don't have your tele zoom in your bag!
In fact,a good additional lens to have is the 55-200 Sony,which is compact,and fairly light,and will cover most situations,and is surprisingly good.
For the money,this new Sony is capable of great images,equivalent to cameras costing a couple of hundreds pounds more,so a smaller rear LCD,and a different lens mount,are small tradeoffs,in my view.
kodachrome 2 463
7 Nov 2013 5:21PM
I don't see a problem with engineering plastic being used for the lens mount, although there were some cries of anguish from some members on the Photoclubalpha web site.

I can see what Sony are trying to do, one entry level model to cover the discontinued A37/57. I think they went a bit too far in the dumbing down but I guess cost was important.
I think these 2 cameras will end up on the wanted list, especially the A57 because it was so good.
I have both the 37 and 57 and no way will I part with these, they are so good. This is a personal opinion, but I feel the IQ on the 37/57 is better than the 58 regardless of the increased MP.
Check out the reviews on this site, the A37 wins on IQ and the 57 on features.
Look at the high Def pic of Thorsby Hall with the A37, now crop it and look at the finely defined brickwork, I'v not seen better from cameras costing twice as much or even more.

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